CNET's 3D Printing Still Years Away for Most Consumers - Gartner covers a report by Gartner that common use of 3D printers by consumers is still 5 to 10 years away.
When technology forecasters say something is 5 to 10 years away, what they really mean is "we think it's going to be big, but we have no idea when".
Analysts forecasting tech to be 5 to 10 years away is quite common. And in many cases technologies are forecast to be 5 to 10 years away for many years.
3D printing is an example. I first started looking at 3D printing a bit over a decade ago. At that time many forecasters were saying it was 5 to 10 years away. Most every year since forecasters have said 3D printing is 5 to 10 years away. And it's still 5 to 10 years away.
This highlights an important technology forecasting truism - getting the timing right on when a new technology will enter the mainstream is extremely hard.
In most cases technology forecasters way overestimate how quickly commercialization and mainstream adoption will occur. Keep this in mind whenever you come across a technology forecast.
But while mainstream consumer adoption is still 5 to 10 years away, business adoption of 3D printing is happening today.
The Enterprise Irregulars site's Roundup of 3D Printing Market Forecasts And Estimates, 2014 provides an excellent look at the 3D printing industry, including the forecast chart below.